Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kaamulan Festival Parade

I was finally there, but the parade already started. Argh! At 7:59AM, three tribes, of the only 7, have already taken off! But I was not disappointed. I still was able to see what remained waiting for their cue to launch their groups unto the street.

This starting point is very reminiscent of Baguio’s Panagbenga Festival. How and why? Well, the route emanates from the upper area of a street that inclines down to the city center, the market and onwards to near the capitol where the final showdown happens. Just like how it is at Session Road going down to Burnham, then left to the sports field, right? Add to that, the clime in this city is ultra cool (cold) even at midmorning of a sunny day!

This province is not named “Bukidnon” for just nothing in the first place! Bukid is a Visayan term for mountain (bundok in Tagalog). And as you know, many places in Mindanao speak generally Visayan languages like Cebuano and Ilonggo an/or combinations of both or with other tongues. Bukidnon in these languages means Mountainous (Tagalog equivalent is ‘mabundok’). So it’s always cool.

But let’s tell what I saw in this Kaamulan Festival Parade. Oh my my my… this one is a class different from other festivals of the country.

Participants. There are only 7 tribes in the parade and competition – each representing the 7 indigenous tribes of Bukidnon. But don’t smirk yet! Each tribe can be composed of hundreds and hundreds of people, the front end even already barely hears their band playing at the tail end. And these are not just students. ALL ‘tribes’ are composed of real tribe members of all ages, students, parents, teachers, etc. When I say all ages, you better watch them. Wonderfully uncommon!

Costumes. All are of the indigenous tribes they represent which are the Bukidnon, Higaonon, Talaandig, Manobo, Matigsalug, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon. To us the common urban dwellers, these tribes can easily be remembered for being the favorite hunt of photographers owing to the vivid colors of what they wear! Some performers, of course also don animal and/or other creatures to complete their story.

Movements. It’s a dance yes, but not what you would be too used to watching like in the festivals of the Visayas with lively or loud swaying, with obvious influences of western dance culture. Seldom would there also be wild and dangerous throwing of dancers in the air and such acrobatics like at Dinagyang. There are no categories like "free interpretation" and so on as in Sinulog! The Kaamulan dance movements reflect tribal activities like hunting, harvesting, planting, courting, celebrating, greeting, etc.
Hey, take note of those spears that boys and men carry. They are all real. I mean real as in bamboo or wooden pole with sharp pointed metal/steel tips. And when they bang those on the ground as part of their dance, yeah, your public works engineers will probably scratch their heads!

Bands/Music. Theirs are a fusion of modernistic technologies and the tribal real thing. Those drums of all sizes cannot be missed. My goodness when they at the same time whack those things, your chest can feel it. Even some props are at the same time also used as percussion sound-makers that add to the rhythm of their kind of music.

Floats. OMG! Kaamulan's are probably the sturdiest floats I have seen in my life whether here or abroad. They’re usually huge but do not require guidance from many people who walk front or side of it (like at Sinulog or Pangbenga). And this parade shoots down a rather steep road. Yet, these gigantic floats can go speeding on its path, or crawl at ant’s speed when need be!
Note on this pic below: that is just the first level of the float. If you look towards the upper right corner of the photo, you can see feet also thumping up there!
Sometimes it is even hard to see who is steering a float and where from! Try spotting them on these two smaller floats below

Well, while the dances are lively ritualistic movements, I think on these floats are where the tribes show their modernistic technical know-how. I tried counting the number of people on board that big bird. Hmm, somewhere over a hundred – all with their instruments and either jumping or dancing or both! (I’ll post video clips soon).

That's a camera on the bird's beak. Just your normal lowly webcam actually - but that's what the driver of this float navigate with! Submarine/war tank technology!

And did you notice what the exteriors of these floats are made of? Yep, things around like bamboos, leaves, white rice, garlic, palay husk, mongo beans, corn cobs, talisay nuts, brown rice, corn grits, grass, flowers and the likes!

Okay, The ‘commercial part’ of the parade comes after all the seven tribes. And not so many people disregard them. Why? Because there are freebies coming their way!

Someone still caught sight of me and asked me to board the other motorbike. I said shh, no and shooed them away hehe. Peace batsoi, peace!

And I like this… immediately after everything and everyone… there follows this troop of cleaners. Not really a lot of rubbish, but still they come marching down that road to sweep it clean!

Here are some video clips, as promised...

In totality, due to the unique dance movements, the age range of dancers and the OMG gigantic floats… I must say this Kaamulan Festival is really truly AWESOME!

To read the chronology of stories on this trip, click the following article numbers:
01 02 03 04 05 06 07
08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52


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